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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Rushcliffe could become home to UK’s first fusion reactor – a safe fuel that requires temperatures 10 times hotter than the sun

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Fusion offers a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Fusion reactor

The UK’s first fusion reactor could be built on the site of Ratcliffe on Soar coal power station in Rushcliffe.

The fuel sources are relatively plentiful and radiation concerns are slight compared with nuclear reactors powered by fission.

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fusion reactor
© UK Gov Atomic Energy Authority

It requires temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees.

A Uniper spokesperson said: “Uniper, in conjunction with local stakeholders, including Nottinghamshire County Council, is at the early stages of exploring options to submit part of its Ratcliffe on Soar site to be considered as a possible location for a fusion reactor power station in the next decade or two, as part of the government’s Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme. This project is one of a range of options being considered for development of the site.”

Kay Cutts MBE, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Alongside D2N2, we very much support this expression of interest as part the ambitious nomination process to bring a world-leading centre for green energy to Nottinghamshire.

 

“It is very early days of course,  but the opportunity to help lead the UK’s green energy revolution  would be a tremendous boost for  Nottinghamshire and the rest of the region

 

“Generations to come would benefit from new skills, training and thousands of  highly skilled jobs, attracting investment and bringing  massive benefits  to our regional  economy.”

A recent independent study by London Economics found that the UK economy has gained £1.4 billion from the government’s direct investment in fusion energy over the past decade.

What is fusion energy?

Fusion research aims to copy the process which powers the sun for a new large-scale source of clean energy here on earth. When light atomic nuclei fuse together to form heavier ones, a large amount of energy is released. To do this, fuel is heated to extreme temperatures, 10 times hotter than the centre of the sun, forming a plasma in which fusion reactions take place. A commercial power station will use the energy produced by fusion reactions to generate electricity.

Fusion has a huge potential to be a long-term energy source that is environmentally responsible (with no carbon emissions). It is inherently safe with abundant and widespread fuel resources (the raw materials are found in seawater and the earth’s crust).